Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters

By Lisa Song and Rosalind Adams

Amid a fracking boom, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has quietly weakened air pollution guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… y worked as a Health scientist at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. The problem, Morandi said, is that finding the scientifically …"

"… Ron Melnick, a former scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, analyzed the TCEQ’s 139-page description of its buta …"

"… rmer director of Health standards programs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said environmental groups could help level the playing fie …"

Health worries pervade North Texas fracking zone

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the heavily fracked Barnett Shale in North Texas blame their health problems on toxic oil and gas emissions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Public Integrity":

"… uth Texas, where drilling has soared the past several years. The Center for Public Integrity and InsideClimate News have been reporting on air pollution in the Eagle F …"

"… w several people who’ve left. They all got better.” Jim Morris of the Center for Public Integrity and Lisa Song and David Hasemyer of InsideClimate News contributed to this …"

Plant expansions fueled by shale gas boom to boost greenhouse gas, toxic air emissions

By Talia Buford

At least 120 planned plant expansions driven by the fracking boom collectively could release 130 million tons per year of greenhouse gases.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… ta. The three projects that have received final permits from regulators in Florida, Maryland and Louisiana have the potential to emit up to 7.5 million tons …"

New battlefront for petrochemical industry: benzene and childhood leukemia

By Kristen Lombardi

Jarrett McElheney grew up near a cluster of petroleum storage tanks. His parents believe benzene in drinking water gave him cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Occupational Safety and Health Administration":

"… ante, a former director of the office that reviews health standards at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who has studied benzene for 40 years and now testifies for plaintiffs in …"

A dozen dirty documents

By Kristen Lombardi and Jared Bennett

Twelve documents that stand out from the Center's new archive

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Public Integrity":

"… be that this is not being done to protect against litigation”   …"

Internal documents reveal industry 'pattern of behavior' on toxic chemicals

By David Heath and Jim Morris

A new archive created by the Center and two universities will feature a trove of previously secret industry documents on toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… court order.” Plaintiff’s lawyers like Herschel Hobson, of Beaumont, Texas, wield such documents in worker exposure cases to demonstrate early indust …"

Benzene and worker cancers: 'An American tragedy'

By Kristen Lombardi

Previously secret documents illuminate a 10-year effort by petrochemical titans to counteract damning science on the carcinogen benzene.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… ican tragedy.” Five million Americans at risk Benzene emissions in the United States have declined sharply since 1987, when federal regulators set the occupati …"

"… ng block.” Benzene ranks 17th among the top 20 chemicals produced in the United States, according to the federal government. The petrochemical industry’s deca …"

Years after black lung claim was wrongly denied, coal miner gets his due

By Chris Hamby

After more than nine years of fighting, coal miner Steve Day was posthumously awarded federal black lung benefits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Coal":

"… o help defeat sick miners' cases. But, in a rare move on Oct. 23, Patriot Coal agreed to stop fighting Day and his widow and to begin paying her $947.70 …"

Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environment":

"… monitored for the peer-reviewed study, published today in the journal Environmental Health — is “potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtu …"

"… and director of the University at Albany’s Institute for Health and the Environment. In 40 percent of the air samples, laboratory tests found benzene, formal …"

"… terim chair of West Virginia University’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences and author of the study for that state. “Part of the …"

"… , a faculty emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh who served as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official during the Reagan administration. The beginn …"

Bill aims to stop coal companies from denying benefits to miners with black lung

By Chris Hamby

Two coal-state senators plan to introduce legislation to reform the federal benefits program for black lung victims.

Ten major findings from our investigations so far this year

By Jared Bennett and Sarah Whitmire

Investigations from the first half of 2014

Excerpts from this story referencing "Tennessee":

"… ike truancy, curfew violation, having tobacco This is Judge Tim Irwin of Tennessee. As a juvenile court judge, he is admired for kind gestures like handing o …"

"… that has proved life-changing for some teens, especially when coupled with Tennessee's vigorous pattern of locking up status offenders immediately after procee …"

Critic of artificial sweeteners pilloried by industry-backed scientists

By Chris Young

Any criticism of the artificial sweetener industry is met with a barrage of criticism, often from questionable sources.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Beverage Association":

"… e “opinion” tag, the food and beverage industry responded quickly. The American Beverage Association, for example, dismissed the paper’s findings, arguing that it was “not …"

"… did not mention to viewers that the study was funded entirely by the American Beverage Association and that two of the study’s authors received consulting fees from C …"

"… e associations, including the International Sweeteners Association and the American Beverage Association, the Council does not publicly list its members. Nor does its website reve …"

Black lung claims by 1,100 coal miners may have been wrongly denied

By Chris Hamby

Black lung opinions by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins should be assumed to lack credibility, senators are told at a hearing.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Coal":

"… to a series of new initiatives.   Two major obstacles miners face: Coal companies have more resources to develop medical evidence, and miners ofte …"

Even low doses of arsenic trigger cancer in mice, study finds

By David Heath

Study by the National Institutes of Health found levels of arsenic similar to what some people consume caused cancer in mice.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environment":

"… rs in history. Extrapolating from those studies, scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have tentatively concluded that arsenic is a serious p …"

"… pears to be safe,” Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, said in a statement …"

How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health

By David Heath

A ban on arsenic-containing pesticides was lifted after a lawmaker disrupted a scientific assessment by the EPA.

Excerpts from this story referencing "IRIS":

"… ram with a drab bureaucratic name, the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). There are tens of thousands of chemicals on the market and by one estim …"

"… one estimate, 700 new chemicals are introduced every year. Yet since 1987, IRIS has completed evaluations on only 557 of them. The last time IRIS analyze …"

"… e 1987, IRIS has completed evaluations on only 557 of them. The last time IRIS analyzed arsenic was in 1988, just a year before the Safe Drinking Water A …"

"… of arsenic. After the EPA set a new drinking-water standard in 2001, the IRIS program moved to update its analysis of arsenic. EPA scientists spent five …"

What to do if your drinking water contains arsenic

By David Heath

Millions of Americans unwittingly consume arsenic, a potent carcinogen also linked to IQ deficits in children, in their drinking water.

Foul air in heavily fracked Texas county has couple looking for a way out

By Lisa Song

After 23 years in once-placid Karnes County, Texas, Lynn and Shelby Buehring say they're moving to escape toxic fumes from a fracking boom.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas Commission on Environmental Quality":

"… Nobody's there to help." Buehring has filed numerous complaints with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which oversees air quality within the state. One of her first comp …"

Energy Dept. confirms it's been on the wrong path since 2007

By Douglas Birch

A newly-released DOE study concludes the department can save billions by shelving a costly South Carolina nuclear fuel factory.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Boston":

"… o the study’s newly-released text. The study led by John MacWilliams, a Boston lawyer and equity investor appointed to advise Secretary of Energy Ernest …"

Deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion blamed on regulatory failures

A 2013 blast at West Fertilizer that killed 14 "never should have occurred," Chemical Safety Board chairman says.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Chemical Safety Board":

"… lant explosion in West, Texas, which killed 14 people and injured 226, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported Tuesday. Issuing the board’s preliminary findings on the April …"

Herbicide ban on hold in Sri Lanka, as source of deadly kidney disease remains elusive

By Sasha Chavkin

After Sri Lanka's announced ban on a Monsanto herbicide, opponents challenged the action and convinced the president to put the ban on hold.

Excerpts from this story referencing "India":

"… disease devastating agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists suspect the malady is caused by a combination of factors inclu …"

Tough new fracking rules in Colorado drawing keen attention in Texas, where boom rages on

By Zahra Hirji, Lisa Song and Jim Morris

Air pollution rules adopted last month in Colorado may have an impact on oil and gas drilling in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… f them — Anadarko Petroleum Corp., DCP Midstream, Encana Corp. and Noble Energy, Inc. — fully support the new regulations. Anadarko and DCP Midstream a …"

Sri Lanka bans Monsanto herbicide citing potential link to deadly kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Sri Lanka orders ban on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, citing kidney disease outbreak; Monsanto said the evidence is unproven.

Excerpts from this story referencing "India":

"… ens of thousands of agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. The malady is suspected by scientists to be caused by a combination of fa …"

Nuclear Waste: Energy Department proposes to kill multi-billion dollar nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith

The costliest U.S. nonproliferation program has been undone by huge cost overruns.

Excerpts from this story referencing "MOX fuel":

"… ffect that decision. The department’s review “has determined that the MOX fuel approach is significantly more expensive than planned and it is not viable …"

Nuclear Waste: Auditors find continuing mismanagement at nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch

The GAO complains anew about DOE's unwillingness to investigate cost increases at the MOX plant, and learn from its mistakes there

Excerpts from this story referencing "Obama administration":

"… wouldn’t formally update its MOX project cost estimates until after the Obama administration decides whether to proceed with it or select an alternative pathway to ren …"

Nuclear Waste: Cost of South Carolina fuel plant goes up by billions of dollars — again

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Douglas Birch

The MOX plant may cost another $30 billion to complete and operate, and federal officials are newly wary.

EPA abandons major radiation cleanup in Florida, despite cancer concerns

By Douglas P. Guarino

Federal agency abandons phosphate-mining clean-up, leaving more than 100,000 residents at risk of exposure to cancer-causing radiation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Superfund":

"… Mara Burger, suggests the EPA decision not to clean up the sites under its Superfund program indicated that the federal agency did not consider the Lakeland ar …"

"… er the Lakeland area "problematic" from a public health standpoint. Under Superfund law, the federal agency is authorized to remediate contaminated sites that …"

"… the federal agency spokeswoman said. The EPA decision not to enforce its Superfund standards at the Florida sites is consistent with a controversial new guid …"

"… ivate meetings that they strongly opposed the agency declaring the parcels Superfund sites. Such a move could make mining companies liable for as much as $11 b …"

Top environment investigations from 2013

By The Center for Public Integrity

In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite environment and workers' rights investigations from 2013.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemical industry":

"… s Edgar A. Poe Award, documented the largely unknown influence of the chemical industry, and revealed how sick miners' efforts to receive benefits for black …"

High bladder cancer rate shrouds New York plant, exposing chemical hazards in the workplace

By Jim Morris

A decades-long spate of bladder cancer at a Goodyear plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y. spotlights limits of regulation over dangerous chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "DuPont":

"… l run out. Many question why the chemical’s most prominent manufacturer, DuPont, took so long to issue warnings. The long-running episode underscores the …"

"… gredient, ortho-toluidine, at various times from the 1950s into the 1990s; DuPont supplied Goodyear for the longest period, almost four decades. By 1955, r …"

"… dyear for the longest period, almost four decades. By 1955, records show, DuPont knew the chemical caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals and protecte …"

"… oncerned and continue to be committed to actions to address the issue.” DuPont said it “conducts its business in accordance with the highest ethical st …"

Days after investigation, coal miners' safety net scrutinized

By Bill Buzenberg

Center's 'Breathless and Burdened' series leads U.S. senators to call for changes, major hospital to halt program and review practices.

Excerpts from this story referencing "energy":

"… The coal industry, along with many other sectors of our economy, such as energy, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, financial services, health insurance …"

Behind the story: 'Breathless and Burdened'

By Chris Hamby

Reporter Chris Hamby details his yearlong look at miners suffering from black lung disease, and their struggle for benefits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Coal":

"… has a contract with miners, signed in 1969 with the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, which promised to take the necessary steps to …"